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England face wrap music in Mohali

cricket Updated: Oct 20, 2011 09:27 IST
Nilankur Das
Nilankur Das
Hindustan Times
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India are on the verge of wrapping up the series here but surprisingly the 26,000 capacity stadium still has a fifth of its tickets unsold. An appeal was made to the media to spread the news so that people still interested could grab their seats for the third one-dayer of the five-match series against England on Thursday. http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/20-10-pg19b.jpg

Ironically, in the absence of the Indian stars, it's the visitors who can breathe life into this series that is almost sneaking by amid build-ups to Diwali and India's first F1 race. That the first two matches in Hyderabad and Delhi were predominantly one-sided has not stoked the fans' anticipation much. These days, people begin to leave for home once a match becomes largely predictable, even if it is India who are winning.

Crowd apathy

It had happened at both the previous venues, and unless the PCA Stadium stages an absolute humdinger, more and more Indian fans, too used to the every-ball thrills of T20, could opt out of the discomfort of the stands and choose the TV instead. So, a match whose USP was India achieving an unassailable 3-0 lead has also gained significance in dictating whether the last two games in Mumbai and Kolkata remain relevant.

Looking at the wicket here, England would think their prayers have been answered. There is a fair amount of grass in it and it has traditionally helped seamers. But just that won't help them. They batted poorly in both the matches and failed to stitch a partnership. They would look up to Kevin Pietersen or Jonathan Trott to drop anchor once they get themselves in, something that has not happened so far.

For India, the seam trio of Praveen Kumar, Vinay Kumar and Umesh Yadav have proved a handful, obviously being able to utilise the conditions better than their English counterparts.

Dew factor

The dew is going to be a factor in the evening despite the ASPA 80 being sprayed here everyday. But India are unlikely to change the winning combination to play an extra seamer.

Gautam Gambhir --- who along with Praveen skipped training on Wednesday --- returning to form is a huge plus for India, who have a busy international schedule lined up leading upto the tour of Australia. Ravindra Jadeja's role with bat and ball in the first match was also crucial. The Saurashtra all-rounder playing means skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni will not have sleepless nights over who can ensure a strong finish once the batting Powerplay gets over.

Woakes ruled out

Durham pacer Graham Onions will replace injured seamer Chris Woakes for the last two ODIs and the T20, an England Board release said. Woakes was ruled out of the tour due to a left quadriceps strain. The release said: "Woakes suffered the injury on Sunday during practice in Delhi and will now undertake rehabilitation that rules him out of the remaining three ODIs against India." Onions will join the squad in Mumbai ahead of the fourth ODI.